Feed your talent, even if it’s just 10 minutes a day

I don’t know why I always do this, neglecting the things that really matter to me while wasting hours, days, weeks, on nonsense.


In September, I will be going back to college.

The long Irish summer holidays will eventually end – we get full three months off so we can all help on the farm and bring in the harvest, or whatever – and soon dark nights and happy hours in the classroom return.

It will be the second year of my Higher Diploma in Art at night school.

If I stick to it now and then take a year out to study full-time, I could even graduate with an actual BA in Fine Art.

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Still, I’m not sure I can really justify taking a year off to dawdle, but I have saved a place on the wall of family graduation photographs just in case, just for me.

“You’re so talented,” say my friends, and I puff up with pride even while I protest that I’m not.

I also know that a lot of my “talent” is practice – as with anything, the more one practices, the better one gets.

And yet, and yet… At the end of the first year when my tutors gave me feedback on my final project – a B-plus, thank you very much – they said one thing.

“Keep sketching over the break, even just 10 minutes a day, to keep those drawing muscles fit,” they said.

Ten minutes a day? Sure I could do that! But did I? Did I, heck.

I took my sketchbook to South Africa with me but the only drawing I did was mindless doodling on the newspaper, putting horns on people and blacking out their teeth.

I just didn’t have the time, don’t you know, though I did find the time to reach level 2,600 on Two Dots.

Now it’s so long since I drew anything that I have The Fear.

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When I interrogate my motives, I feel a blackhole like physical pain in my chest.

I don’t know why I always do this, neglecting the things that really matter to me while wasting hours, days, weeks, on nonsense.

As the legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz puts it: “You can have talent, but it can go away and you need to feed it. You need to take care of it and you need to find ways to inspire yourself.”

I need to. We all need to. Today is August the first. Onwards, just 10 minutes a day…

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